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shoplifting, Lake County criminal defense attorneyShoplifting is one of the most common crimes in the country, but it can have effects that are far-reaching to businesses, lawmakers, and to society as a whole. The crime is so common, in fact, that there is a National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, working to both reduce the number of shoplifting incidents in the United States and to discourage would-be shoplifters from committing such crimes. More than 10 million individuals have been arrested or accused of shoplifting in the last half decade, and current estimates suggest that 1 in every 11 people in the United States have shoplifted at one time or another.

Common Misconceptions

Because it is frequently a minor misdemeanor crime, shoplifting is often considered alongside crimes committed by juveniles, which are often offenses that do not, and cannot, affect one’s permanent record. Yet, the effects of shoplifting do, in fact, stay on a person’s record for a long time and can effect a person’s ability to find work—perpetuating an ugly cycle that, in many instances, led to the incident in the first place.

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Illinois Eavesdropping Act is one of the toughest in the country. The law was passed in 1961, making it a felony to make an audio recording of any conversation unless all parties agree to the recording. If someone is found guilty, they face a prison sentence. The punishment for being found guilty of recording a police officer is even harsher – up to 15 years in prison.

However, over the past several years, the law has faced legal challenges by people who have been arrested and charged with violating, including a case backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU). The judge in that 2011 case ruled that the law was constitutional. In his decision he said, “If you permit the audio recordings, they’ll be a lot more eavesdropping. . .  There's going to be a lot of this snooping around by reporters and bloggers.”

But a few months later, another judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional and dropped all charges against the defendant – a woman who recorded a conversation she had with officers from Chicago Police internal affairs division, where they were trying to discourage her from discouraging her from filing a complaint of sexual misconduct against another officer.

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Thomas M. Hackney, a 40-year-old U.S. Postal Service worker “was charged with drunken driving after he crashed a mail truck while on duty and injured himself” in early July, according to the Chicago Tribune. The postman was charged with a misdemeanor for DUI, police told the Tribune, and was taken by the fire department from the scene of the crash to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital in Cook County. According to the Tribune, Hackney told police that, “another vehicle turned in front of him, causing him to swerve and the ‘next thing he knew he was at a hospital.’”

When questioned by police at the hospital regarding the crash, Hackney could not remember which road he was traveling on. He told police that the reason he smelled of alcohol and had glassy, bloodshot eyes was because he had had a “bit” to drink the night before, but when tested, his blood alcohol level proved to be more than two times the legal limit. Hackney didn’t remember whether he had dropped to mail off downtown or if he was doing pickups at the time of the crash. He will appear in court in August.

According to BrightHub, while it’s not always guaranteed (and in some cases contestable) that a person would lose his job because he was slapped with a DUI, in Hackney’s case his position will likely be up for review. “If driving a company vehicle is your main responsibility,” reports BrightHub, “driving under the influence of alcohol will automatically disqualify you for the job.” Additionally, government jobs, such as those provided by the U.S. Postal Service, tend to be less lenient on personal offenses. In New Hampshire, the Nashua Telegraph reports that “police officers, firefighters, or other public employees arrested for driving while intoxicated often endure the glare of publicity on top of everything else, and a conviction can hit them harder than the average Joe.”

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Juvenile plea agreements are made between the juvenile defendant and the state’s attorney. In a plea agreement, the juvenile defendant will plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. These agreements must be approved by a judge, after which a hearing date will be set.

Trials will only occur for the following reasons:

  • the youth chooses not to plead guilty,
  • the youth does not agree to the plea agreement,
  • the youth was not separated from the system,
  • or the prosecutor did not dismiss all of the charges filed against the child.

Because juveniles do not have the constitutional right to a jury trial, juvenile trials are bench trials. Law states that these trials must occur within 120 days of the child’s demand for a trial, although in some instances this date can be held off for an additional 30 days. However, in the cases of violent juvenile offenders, habitual juvenile offenders, and extended juvenile jurisdiction prosecution, the juveniles do have the right to a trial with a jury.

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